Let’s start off with the obvious here, what is Z-Contact%? If you check out our handy dandy glossary you would see “Pitches on which contact was made on pitches inside the zone/Swings on pitches inside the zone.” For pitchers, quite simply how often do opposing hitters make contact on their pitches when they throw inside the zone. Here are the leaders from 2020.
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Saves+Holds leagues seem to be on the up and up because of the volatility of the saves category. We all are aware of the shift in team philosophies when it comes to the ninth inning. Many use committees, some use specific pitchers in high leverage situations (could be the 7th, 8th, or 9th inning), and few use one pitcher. This is where Saves+Holds leagues come into play, eliminates the headache of chasing the ever-elusive saves category. Here are the 2020 Saves+Holds leaders.
If you were to dabble in the fantasy baseball community on Twitter you would find many analysts and writers posting interesting, compelling, and sometimes unbelievable statistics. Ones that sometimes bring forward hidden gems. Often they are lists that combine multiple metrics. Last offseason Kenta Maeda was on a lot of those lists.
He backed up all of his underlying metrics from 2019 by producing a fantastic 2020 season and making the entire fantasy baseball community look like geniuses. Since December 1st Kenta Maeda has been drafted as the 46th player overall and the 15th pitcher off the board. That’s some high praise but drafting is about acquisition cost and begs the question, are we taking Maeda at his ceiling leaving little room for any kind of regression?
Patrick Corbin is the king of slider usage. On average he throws his slider 40% of the time. Why? Well, when you have a pitch that is so good why not throw it more? Like a lot more. It worked wonders for Patrick Corbin and his performance level. Here are three pitchers who could benefit from a pitch mix change like this.
Stability is important in fantasy baseball, especially when it involves early-round picks. When we talk stability it can mean two things. It can mean stability of health or stability of skill set. With your early-round picks you of course want players with very few holes in their skills and players who stay on the field. I now present you with someone who teeters on a tight rope with both health and skill set: Dinelson Lamet.
Being a big comic book and superhero fan I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Glass when it comes to Tyler Glasnow (besides the obvious pun). For those who don’t know, Mr. Glass is a character played by the prominent actor Samuel Jackson in the hit movie Unbreakable. The character’s name derives from a rare condition that brittles his body leaving him able to break every bone in by just falling over. While Tyler Glasnow is injury prone, this correlation more so derives from the make up of his skill set, one that might be more fragile than we think.
Acquiring saves in fantasy baseball is becoming more and more of a headache. The Tampa Bay Rays had 12 different pitchers notch a save in 2020. Imagine if it was a season of normal length? With the league trending towards using their best pitchers in high leverage positions instead of the conventional only ninth-inning role, it seems like grabbing saves are only going to get more complicated. Below you will see some closers that likely won’t be too popular but could help you in the long run. A quick side note, there are a lot of free-agent relief pitchers (ie. Brad Hand) so things can definitely change.
If you would like to read parts one and two you can check them out here and here.
Acquiring saves in fantasy baseball is becoming more and more of a headache. The Tampa Bay Rays had 12 different pitchers notch a save in 2020. Imagine if it was a season of normal length? With the league trending towards using their best pitchers in high leverage positions instead of the conventional only ninth-inning role, it seems like grabbing saves are only going to get more complicated. Below you will see some closers that likely won’t be too popular but could help you in the long run. A quick side note, there are a lot of free-agent relief pitchers (ie. Brad Hand) so things can definitely change. If you would like to read part one you can check it out here.
Have you ever had a bad day where you just wanted it to end? I know I have. Can you imagine having to go through an entire baseball season that you just wanted to end? A lot can go wrong for a pitcher, it can be anything from a nagging injury to a loss of velocity. The pitchers below took a step back in 2020 hurting fantasy owners around the world. Which begs the question, can they rebound?
Sometimes as fantasy players we focus a considerable amount on exciting players and it causes us to ignore the “boring” players. Reflecting on my own decisions for the 2020 season one of my biggest realizations was that I focused on what a player could become instead of what a player has done. This brings us to some boring pitchers who aren’t very flashy and don’t have immense upside but can still be valuable.
Dallas Keuchel is now at the old age of 32 and he seems to have turned back time. The kicker with Keuchel and the reason why a lot of people tend to shy away from him is the lack of strikeouts. Throughout his career he has averaged a 19.0 K% and 7.11 K/9. In the last three seasons those numbers have dropped to a 17.7 K% and 6.76 K/9. In today’s current fantasy baseball mentality we all love strikeouts and Keuchel clearly doesn’t possess that.
What he does bring to the table is a high floor in the ratios department. In the past four seasons Kuechel hasn’t had an ERA over 3.75. In fact, in those four seasons he has averaged a 3.30 ERA, 3.86 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP. Those are some pretty great ratios and he basically helps you in every pitching category except one.
Coming into 2020 Keuchel was being drafted with an ADP of 266. According to the Razzball player rater, he finished as the 79th best player. In the 2 Early Mocks run by Justin Mason, his ADP is around 172. He was being drafted behind Chris Sale who will miss half the season and could be a shell of himself. He is also being drafted behind Tony Gonsolin, a young exciting pitcher who probably won’t exceed 150 innings because of the team he plays for.
We still might be underestimating the boring Dallas Keuchel.
Zach Davies is not a very popular name in the fantasy community. The reason being was most likely both his career SwStr% (8.0%) and career K% (17.3%). In the past two seasons Davies has been able to produce a 3.30 ERA, 4.36 FIP, and 5.09 SIERA. Now the underlying numbers scream for regression but sometimes players outperform their underlying numbers. Julio Teheran did it for numerous years. Could Davies be the same way? It seems like it’s possible based solely on the awareness of his game. As he stated to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “I never expected to have overpowering stuff. I knew where I was physically. I knew where I was at, skill-set wise. I was always trying to think. I was always trying to analyze games. I was always critiquing things. I know how incredibly hard it is to play baseball. At the same time, constructive criticism and being able to learn from it — being able to see the game play out on TV and know what they did right wrong and if it happens to me, how can I make sure I’m in the best position to make the right play or the right pitch.”
“I think personally deep down it’s always been a thinking game for me.”
When you look at Davies 2020 he actually performed better than he ever had. He pitched 69.1 innings with a 2.73 ERA and 3.88 FIP. Unlike his two year numbers, his 2020 FIP shows that he actually was an above-average pitcher. He rolled out a pitch mix change bumping his changeup usage a full 10%. This lead to an increase in SwStr%, K%, and CSW. It’s hard to tell if this could stick because there wasn’t a lot of evidence as to why his changeup increased in SwStr% from 15.9% to 20.4%. What we do know is Davies has above-average command. He hits the edge of the zone 46.0% of the time while the league average is just 39%.
Overall with great command and a career 3.79 ERA maybe Davies will continue to be undervalued and continue to beat those underlying numbers. Last year in NFBC Davies was being taken at pick 480 but according to Razzball finished as the 60th best player. In the 2 Early Mocks his ADP was 195.
Marco Gonzales is like Kyle Hendricks but of lesser quality. While Hendricks has been a lot more stable in terms of ratios, Gonzales has been solid for three years now and everyone seems to keep pushing him to the side. In the last three seasons he has pitched his way to 439.1 innings with a 3.85 ERA and 3.75 FIP. Much like everyone else the career 8.6% SwStr% and 19.2% K% has been the main deterrent of Gonzales’ fantasy stock.
As for Gonzales’ 2020 he improved in several areas of his game. His strikeout rate rose from 17.0% to 23.1% and most notably his walk rate dipped from 6.5% to an elite 2.5%. Even just overall his ERA was 3.10 with a 3.32 FIP and 3.90 SIERA. What he did differently was shifting away from his bad changeup and relying on his cutter and curveball more. Both pitches increased in vertical movement compared to the season prior and better results followed. If Gonzales can keep his walk rate to an elite level he could consistently become a top 50 pitcher.
Coming into 2020 Marco Gonzales was being drafted with an ADP of 377. After the season ended he was ranked as the 49th best player. In the 2 Early Mocks he had an ADP of 123, meaning he might still be slightly underrated. Plus how can you not love him after this quote,” I want to fly under the radar, I want to continue to be sneaky. I love proving people wrong. It’s been really, really tough to fight through that and fight through peoples’ stigmas of me. Low ceiling, not projectable. But I think what people can’t evaluate, my ability to learn, my ability to compete and adjust, my ability to grow in the game. I feel like every year since I have been healthy I’ve gotten better and I don’t think you can judge that.” Remember, while we all love the numbers there is still a human element to baseball and a player’s competitiveness or drive can help them overachieve.